Robotics in Tanzania

Hello Everyone!

I’m looking for some advice about bringing robotics education to a developing region. I’m teaching at a school in a rural area of Tanzania this summer and am hoping to bring some robotics kits along with me. The school I’ll be at has both a trade school division and a middle school/high school division. I am hoping to use robotics as an engaging way to teach math, logic, and design principles. I’ll have access to computers but limited access to internet. I’ve coached FLL teams for years so I have though about bringing a few EV3 kits, but I am not sure if there would be something better to bring. I am hoping that whatever I bring will be able to be used by teachers at the school after I leave. Any suggestions on what type of robotics kits I should take or curriculum I should look in to would be helpful!

Thanks!
Greta

I would look into VEX’s EDR kits.

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Would love to set up a call or skype session to learn more and offer our insights. We have started programs locally (Seattle), in Los Angeles, and Uganda using the EV3 kits, and worked with / helped with teams in both Israel and Vietnam with similar models.

Please feel free to DM me, or email questions@cyberknights4911.com and we’ll get in touch!

-B

I recommend speaking with the Science in a Suitcase foundation, as they did something similar a month ago: they took robotics (with LEGO EV3 I believe) to South Africa :smiley:

Thanks for the advice @EricH. What would you say are the advantages of VEX EDR over an EV3?

@daswulfkralle I sent you an email!

Thank you for passing along this website, it’s a great resource!

Given the target audience, it’s a good bit more advanced than the EV3, and probably more suited. Also, it has lots of curriculum available.

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I know of an FRC team in SoCal that helped bring robotics to Ghana. Pinging @kenwah99 who may have some insight.

@GRauch @jaredhk
Hey Greta,

My first questions…
How long do you intend on having the program for (sustaining the program)? and what resources does the school have?

QUICK SUMMARY: Around 5-6 years ago, I started a EV3 program in Ghana (RoboGhana) with 2 EV3s and 1 NXT. The program is primarily managed by our FRC team 5857 and the FRC team developed curriculum. We communicate with them on a weekly basis to check on their status. Today, our program is being taught on a daily basis by local computer teachers that we hired (FRC team pays for) to teach the class. The program is also approved by the educational director in Ghana. And every summer since, we have sent 3-10 students to Ghana. Now we have over 15 EV3 and NXT Robots

SO the hardest part of the program is integration. Rural locations (especially in Africa) lack technological resources. Most schools do have computers however the computer (ICT) curriculum that the kids learn are very very basic. At first, I choose EV3 because they are very “kid friendly” and user friendly as LEGO uses the labview format (everything in pictures). But even the simple programs that EV3s use were too complicated for middle school kids in Ghana. However, I found that about 1-2 months of continuous and daily classes by our teachers made integration possible. Compared to VEX, I think EV3 is still better and easier to integrate. You should ask what resources and what the students already know before doing anything. Such as computer skills.

Do they have computers? Are the computers functional? When I first went to Ghana, the school told me they had computers before I left the USA, but after I arrived, I learned only 2/10 were functional (most schools have old computers that were donated to them by a larger company). Also do they have internet? In the small village that we work at, the internet doesnt work well. So download, print or save everything you need (INCLUDING THE LEGO MINDSTORM EXE file, powerpoints and everything you need) onto a flashdrive (Bring copies). I would also bring a projector. Typically, students need to follow along with what you do and the projector allows everyone to see clearly.

If you have enough funding, I would buy a few cheap laptops. I usually buy cheap thinkpad laptops because they are very reliable and hard to break.

Sustaining the program. THIS WAS THE HARDEST PART. When my FRC team goes to Ghana, we typically spend 2-3 hours of the day working on teaching students in classrooms. But we spend over 6-8 hours teaching the robotics teachers that we hire. The teachers are like the middle school students, they learn very slowly and if they are stuck on something, its very difficult to teach them when you are in the US.

Will the school support you? At first, the school was very reluctant to support this program (afraid to face criticism because this was not part of the school curriculum). But we reached out to the educational director of Ghana (he even went to our school to visit the program) and officially granted approval. Make sure the school will continue what you want them to do, communicating with the headmaster (principal) or school admin is very difficult when you are trying to convince them to do something from the US.

if you have any questions, feel free to ask.
Sorry if my response looks rushed and disjointed, etc. Doing many things at the same time…

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@kenwah99 Thank you for all the information!

I will have about 2 months to get everything set up and running. I am planning to work with the teachers and administration at the school to create something sustainable. My goal is just to start an after-school club, I think anything else is beyond the scope of what I can reasonably hope to achieve in a short amount of time.

In terms of resources, I know the school has a computer lab. I am working to get more detailed information about what shape the computers are in. I know that internet will be unreliable, so I was planning on bringing everything on either a flash drive or purchasing a couple inexpensive laptops as you suggested.

I am headed to this school to teach English through a program at my university. From what I hear from students who went in years before me, the school teachers and administrators are incredibly open to new ideas and previous students have successfully started after school groups. I have met with previous members of the school’s administration and they have indicated they think this would work.

As a follow up question for you, what kind of curriculum did you implement in Ghana? If you have any teaching resources you could pass along, they would be extremely helpful!

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Hello @GRauch,

Yes! Send my team an email. walnutvalleyrobotics@gmail.com and we can help you and give you the curriculum. We mainly use powerpoints.